For Immediate Release
November 10, 2016
HARRISBURG - While employer confidence appears on the rise, many business leaders remain hesitant to invest and hire. These indicators are among the responses from the PA Chamber’s 26th Annual Economic Survey, which was conducted by G. Terry Madonna Opinion Research from August through October 2016 and was completed in partnership with the High Center at Elizabethtown College.
“In our ongoing mission to improve the economic climate for businesses of all sizes, it is refreshing to see evidence that employers genuinely want to invest and stay in Pennsylvania,” said PA Chamber President and CEO Gene Barr. “However, their ongoing reluctance to create new jobs or make significant investments in their business proves that threats of increased taxes and over regulation, along with dramatic spikes in healthcare costs, continue to limit economic opportunity.”
According to the survey, employers’ top concerns are taxes – with the state’s 9.99 percent Corporate Net Income Tax rate being listed as the greatest tax barrier to growth; health insurance costs (61 percent of survey participants say health insurance premiums increased over the last year); lawsuit abuse and excessive environmental regulation.
“Certainly, the extreme premium hikes we’ve seen in the post-Obamacare marketplace are going to lead more businesses to reduce employee benefits or even drop insurance coverage for their workers,” Barr added. “We will continue to advocate for increasing employer flexibility and eliminating costly mandates as we educate employers on how to achieve compliance and maximize their options.”
Of the 350 employers surveyed statewide, exactly half rated Pennsylvania’s overall business climate as “excellent” or “good,” and most – 74 percent – believe it is “better” or “the same” as it was one year ago. This is a significant improvement from last year’s survey, which found that only 16 percent thought the business climate had improved over the prior 12 months. Also, four in five – 80 percent – believe the state is “very” or “somewhat” friendly toward businesses, and only 18 percent would consider leaving the Commonwealth, also an improvement from previous years. However, only 43 percent saw increased sales over last year; only 26 percent of respondents increased their workforce in that same time frame; and a dismal 8 percent said they plan to make major investments in the coming year.
“Smaller businesses remain at the greatest disadvantage in today’s economy, because they operate under persistent threats of tax hikes, mandates and other growing costs that could force them to shut their doors,” said High Center Executive Director Michael Mitchell. “It is important that elected officials keep this in mind and refrain from enacting the types of ‘one-size-fits-all’ mandates that could truly limit the Commonwealth’s ability to compete with neighboring states.”
Another key area of concern that was listed in the survey was workforce, with only two in five respondents saying they believe the quality of the state’s workforce is “excellent” or “good.” The PA Chamber is actively working to combat this problem through a new workforce development initiative – Start the Conversation HERE – that aims to help close the jobs skills gap by changing the negative perception of skilled trades jobs and awarding scholarships to deserving students.
To review the 26th Annual Economic Survey, click here.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its statewide membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.